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Freddy T., Household Guns, Travels at the Melody

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Household Guns
  • Household Guns

If you weren’t at the Melody Inn on Friday night you missed another chance to see a living legend of the underground punk/post-hardcore scene. Frederick T. Erskine is the eponymous frontman of Indy-based funk-soul outfit Freddy T. and the People, but he is perhaps better known as the trumpet and bass player for legendary punk bands June of 44, Hoover, and Crownhate Ruin.

At about 5-foot-8, Erskine is built like a bricklayer; the kind of guy you instinctively just do not want to piss off. On stage he sings with a sort of strained, back of the throat shout and quick delivery that may be FT&TP’s most clearly identifiable link to any sort of punk influence. Instead, they have a sound like a well-orchestrated cross between soul, funk, and even a bit of afro-beat; complex, rich percussion backed up by horns and funky guitar solos. Their album People In (2010) is a must-grab if you like afro-beat acts like the Budos Band.

Freddy T. and the People's 2010 album "People In"
  • Freddy T. and the People's 2010 album "People In"

Indy-based Household Guns played their first show with their new keyboardist John Muylle, and from what I can I tell, he’s had a pretty dramatic influence on the band’s direction. There seemed to be a distinct difference between their older stuff like “Primrose Path” and my personal favorite “So Far,” and newer songs like “Butterfly,” which uses Muylle’s airy, expansive keyboard work overtop a strange, winding rhythm, before delving into a Ray Manzarek-esque synth outro. Songs like “Butterfly” represent a serious step forward for this band that has straddled the fence between alt-rock and psychedelic-glam.

Boston-based Travels, an electric folk duo, delivered an intriguing opening performance. It’s great to see an act like this every once in a while that reminds you what can be done with a guitar, drum kit, and some songwriting talent. Occasionally employing a beat generator and a Dictaphone with pre-recorded sound effects, Travels keep it loose, down-tempo and gritty, with a bit of jangle and lyrics that tend toward the darker side (“A house can be an empty shell of a home/so we keep our doors closed”) with Mona Elliott’s reedy, plodding voice leading the way.

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